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The Pioneer

NFL offseason commands attention

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NFL offseason commands attention

Photo Courtesy of Jeffrey Beall via Flickr

Photo Courtesy of Jeffrey Beall via Flickr

Photo Courtesy of Jeffrey Beall via Flickr

Photo Courtesy of Jeffrey Beall via Flickr

Louis LaVenture,
News and Sports Editor

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For sports fans, this time of year has a great feeling.

The NBA playoffs are right around the corner, March Madness is here for the NCAA, MLB spring training is underway, but the NFL is still king.

Despite the record-breaking season by the Golden State Warriors and all of the off-season moves made by baseball teams, it is football that has dominated coverage now that the new season officially began last week.

However, it wasn’t the on-the-field aspect of the game that has captivated the nation. It has been the off-the-field moves, trades and free agent signings that have soared to the forefront.

The biggest news came on March 7 when Super Bowl 50 winning quarterback Peyton Manning retired. Then, Broncos backup Brock Osweiler chose to flee town for more guaranteed money in Houston, which left the defending champs a huge hole in their repeat effort. The hole they have filled so far with Mark Sanchez, most known for his “butt fumble” as a member of the New York Jets a few seasons back.

The Texans have put together an impressive free agent class. In addition to Osweiler, Houston also signed three solid offensive linemen including Tony Bergstrom, Jeff Allen and Miami Dolphins standout running back Lamar Miller, the best runner on the market. That combined with returners JJ Watt and DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans will surely make an impact in the AFC.

Our own local teams even grabbed some of the spotlight for some moves and more noticeably, the moves that weren’t made.

The Oakland Raiders have had arguably the best off-season so far, as they have acquired the top offensive lineman free agent Kelechi Osemele from the Baltimore Ravens. They also signed cornerback Sean Smith from AFC West rival Kansas City Chiefs, and linebacker Bruce Irvin from the Seattle Seahawks to replace departing Curtis Lofton.

Our other Bay Area franchise, the San Francisco 49ers, has made headlines for what they haven’t done. The 49ers haven’t signed any free agents or dealt with their looming quarterback situation with maligned Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers seem to want to part ways with the quarterback whose agent has expressed similar interests. The Cleveland Browns, who just released Johnny Manziel, have been mentioned as a landing spot for Kaepernick, despite a lack of activity.

Then there is the other group of quarterbacks that are playing the free agency waiting game. His team still hasn’t offered Ryan Fitzpatrick — who had an amazing season with the New York Jets last season — a contract. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Fitzpatrick is looking for $18 million a year and the Jets have offered somewhere between $12 to 16 million per season. Schefter also reported the Broncos could be flirting with Fitzpatrick to fill their quarterback needs.

Robert Griffin III, or RGIII, has been a major factor in the Jets limbo game with Fitzpatrick. Griffin visited with the Jets on Friday and Saturday, but went back home to Texas without a deal. The Philadelphia Eagles avoided the quarterback drama by overpaying for returner Sam Bradford, who got $18 million for two years from the perennial NFC East powerhouse.

With the NCAA men’s basketball tournament about to start later this week, some of the attention will surely go to that as well as the upcoming NBA playoffs. However, it doesn’t take away from how strong the NFL season is even when the games aren’t being played. Football is clearly America’s pastime and has been for some time now.

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NFL offseason commands attention